Ahad Shahbaz, President & CEO
Ahad Shahbaz has directed and overseen over 30 programs on several university campuses in the U.S. and abroad. Inspired by John F. Kennedy’s global message of helping and learning from the world through the Peace Corps program, he began his career in teaching and learning with the Peace Corps in Afghanistan and subsequently continued with coordinating the Teacher Corps/Peace Corps language and cross-cultural project at SUNY/College at Buffalo. Having completed his tenure at SUNY/College, he taught English as a second language at SUNY/Buffalo followed by directing the Office of International Student Affairs at Snead State College in Alabama. His incurable addiction to language and culture subsequently took him to Saudi Arabia to set up the Ohio University intensive English program in Taif, Saudi Arabia. An active participant in multiple organizations, he served EnglishUSA (formerly American Association of Intensive English Programs) as its first elected Vice President for Standards; Carolina TESOL as president; the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation as a task force member; and NAFSA: Association of International Educators as a multi-year presenter on leadership, management, and cross-cultural training. He obtained his BA in Liberal Arts/Linguistics from SUNY/College at Buffalo and his MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from SUNY/Buffalo. Committed to transformative education through project-based curricula, he currently oversees U.S. and international programs focusing on academic preparation, language learning, and cross-cultural training.
David Parsons, Senior Executive Director
David Parsons has had extensive experience in teaching, research, and administration. Prior to joining INTERLINK, David directed a Kellogg Foundation-sponsored program on agriculture in the liberal arts: “Food, Peace, & International Development” at Wilmington College of Ohio. He has taught ESL and conducted cross-cultural research in Algeria. Since 1986, he has worked with INTERLINK as teacher, assistant director and director of two different campus programs. As former president of Carolina TESOL, he has been active in the region promoting standards in ESL programs. David holds a B.A. in History and Math from Guilford College; an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Northwestern University; and a MAT in English as a Second Language from the School for International Training. He speaks fluent French and is familiar with Arabic and Russian.
Jeffrey Puccini, Executive Director
Jeffrey Puccini has a rich and extensive background in training, teaching, and learning of language. As a licensed SIT (School for International Training) TESOL trainer, and trainer of trainers, he has worked with a variety of organizations nationally and internationally. Entities using Jeff’s expertise in teacher training and curriculum development have been educational institutions, private organizations, and governmental agencies, including the U.S. Department of State. His professional work spans many institutions across the U.S. and abroad, including El Salvador, Korea, Thailand, and Venezuela. Jeff’s professional interests include digital learning, reflective practices, and the science of learning. His BA is in literature and MA in Teaching English as a Second Language.
Shaima Shahbaz, Maanagement Consultant
A native of Colorado, Shaima Shahbaz has held various management posts in the US and abroad. After obtaining her BA in Sociology from the University of Colorado in Boulder, she volunteered as a project manager for the nonprofit Afghans4Tomorrow in Afghanistan. Her experience in Kabul inspired her to enroll at the U.N. University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica. With an M.A. in Responsible Management, she then worked with the nonprofit BeadforLife, conducting research and managing projects in rural Uganda. Having served at INTERLINK since 2012, Shaima has worked in various capacities including as Project Manager, Communication Director, and Assistant Director of the INTERLINK institute at St. Ambrose University. As Executive Director, Shaima brings a strong appreciation for and commitment to INTERLINK’s vision, mission, and ethos of service.
Jennifer Guzmán, Director of Curriculum Training and Administration & Online Programs
Jennifer started her time with INTERLINK as an instructor in 2011. From that time forward, teaching English experientially using INTERLINK’s project-based curriculum became a career passion and focus. In 2013, she became an academic coordinator, helping to design professional development for her team and training new teachers. In 2015, she took on the role of Senior Academic Coordinator with expanded training responsibilities across INTERLINK’s U.S. institutes. She also facilitated review and development efforts focused on curriculum. Serving as an interim director of an INTERLINK institute from 2017 – 2018 and as a senior staff member, she gained the experience she needed to connect educational leadership with organizational management. In addition to having an M.A. in Intercultural Studies and TESOL, she has earned her certification as a senior professional in human resource management through the Society of Human Resource Management and has also been through additional training in experiential learning and intercultural communication at the Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication. Before working for INTERLINK, Jennifer spent 10 years teaching English to Chinese university students in China’s Northeast. In 2014, she met her husband, Enrique, a musician and teacher from Mexico. In her spare time, she enjoys music, reading, writing, movies, keeping up with friends, working on her Chinese and Spanish, running, and cooking.
Allison Kerr, Marketing Project Manager
Allison Kerr has been working in international education since 2015. As a student at St. Ambrose University, Allison worked in the Office of International Education assisting students and staff. She spent two years during and after college in AmeriCorps service with the local community, graduating from SAU in 2017. Allison joined the INTERLINK team in 2018 as a student services coordinator at the former INTERLINK Institute at SAU. She has since joined INTERLINK’s Home Office team as a project manager and was appointed the student services coordinator for the online programs. Allison values the opportunity to connect with people from different cultures and backgrounds at INTERLINK. She appreciates INTERLINK’s dedication to helping students achieve their goals through experiential learning. In her spare time, Allison enjoys traveling, spending time with friends, being outdoors, and watching documentaries.
Monique Cooper, Controller
Monique Cooper has been in the accounting field for over 25 years. As a child, her family immigrated to the Denver area from the Netherlands. English is her second language. She earned her accounting certificate at Barnes Business College. While living in Southern California for 18 years she did the accounting for a personal injury attorney, cost accounting for a manufacturing company that produced nutritional supplements, and also in the auto repair industry. She returned to Denver in 2005 and worked as comptroller and office manager/overseas liaison for a clothing designer whose goods were manufactured in China and New Zealand. By joining the INTERLINK team she is able to continue to embrace the cultural diversity she experienced within her own family and in other accounting positions.